• Concerning red-flag signs and symptoms for joint pain include ill appearance, spiking fevers, pinpoint bony tenderness, nocturnal bone pain, unexplained bruising, and inability to bear weight.

  • A red, warm, swollen, and tender joint may represent septic arthritis and is a medical emergency that should be evaluated as soon as possible.

  • A joint effusion is never normal and warrants further evaluation.

  • In the well-appearing patient with nonsignificant joint pain, it is usually fine to try conservative therapy first with strict precautions of returning if pain worsens or does not improve after 1 week of conservative therapy.

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